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I love exploring new avenues with "passion for impossible" which were not treaded by others so far. Not bound by any race or country or religion for me to associate with and contribute in their life. Regular blogger sharing my folly as "wisdom" for others. Please visit my blog http://www.ncnarayanan.blogspot.com to learn the moment of truth I faced in my life that made me wiser to handle this complex phenomena called "LIFE" 

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I welcome you to my blog

Dear friend,
This blog is an effort to share all the mistakes committed by me in my Life. I wish to share them with a hope that you may learn from my mistake and avoid committing them all over again!

I am blending my wisdom with that of all great Masters who have shown me the Light.

This blog is dedicated to everyone from whom I learned. Wish you peaceful life ahead.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Stature – Mystical Ingredient – Episode-5 (Rocking the Boat)

The phrase “Rocking the boat” refers to one of the characteristics of a person who refuses to accept “status quo” however successful the organization he/she leads at any given point in time. It is also applicable for our personal life as an individual. Common man feels that the Leader creates an unnecessary turbulence during an apparently peaceful state. This phenomenon is referred to as “Rocking the boat”. Essentially, rocking the boat refers to the risk taking aspect of a human being in general. Let’s look at an example:

Lucas-TVS in early 80’s   were one of the monopoly companies having 90% market share in auto-electrical in India. Almost at the same time Premier Automobiles had 10 years order book making people to wait for a decade to have the pride possession – the Fiat car! Both the company need not have to do anything to remain in business.

Mr. TK. Balaji the Managing Director of Lucas-TVS has chosen to “Rock the boat” by taking up a major organizational transformation by virtually dismantling both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing systems of the company. For a common man, it was un-warranted as in his stand point the company is doing very well and why do you need to change anything at all. During the same time Premier automobile did nothing and continued in slumber merrily enjoying the market share without taking cognisance of the opening economy in 90s. By the time the global economy opened up in 90’s Lucas-TVS geared up with the most agile and efficient Lean manufacturing systems almost double the output with the same number of people and resources. During the same time Premier automobile virtually perished.

I had the privilege of being a member of the management team that challenged the status-quo in Lucas-TVS then supporting Mr Balaji to realize his dreams. The famous adage “If you wish to remain static, keep running” reinforces the quality of a leader who rocks the boat. In one of the board room meeting I heard Mr. Balaji saying “I am able to see the storm forming at a distance where as my management team feels that there is sun shine”. Seeing something ahead of time which others cannot see is the role of Leadership! It is not only seeing, but “Rocking the boat” against all odds the action the leader is known for.
What is the main point?

Majority of human beings are keen to remain in their comfort zones although it trades off with a mediocre outcome. Most of us are afraid of riding in a roller coaster where as few dare devils try the most frightening gadgets in the world. Many of us have standard menu both at home as well as when we go out for dinner. Even though we seriously review the menu card, we finally settle with our item which we are sure of. Very rarely we ventured for an unknown dish and figure out there are many such unexplored opportunities and avenues. There are two wrong lessons we were programmed by the parents; one is aversion to meet strangers and second, not to take a chance on unknowns – risk aversion! Unfortunately, both these are the real opportunities for growth. In the modern society risk aversion is a common disease that haunts the human beings. Mathematically expressing, Growth is directly proportional to the risk; higher the risk higher the growth.

Charles Darwin
The scientist traced the evolution of species in this planet starting from ice age which they say, it started as a single cell organism, became a fish, birds, mammals and finally human beings. They say the fish took risk by coming out of the water and became a reptile which took risk and started flying as birds and so on. Risk taking is our innate nature and the legacy passed on by our predecessors. Somewhere down the lane we all settled down to our slumber and lost our ability to come out of our comfort zone and take risk. 

Christopher Columbus
Columbus set out his sails towards west in the Atlantic Ocean risking his and fellow sailors life and found the great land later became United States of America. Columbus risk taking discovered the un-founded land. Later all risk takers from many countries followed the path shown by Columbus and migrated to this new found land. They built the great nation as super power in less than 500 years. Few critics say that those who could not succeed in their home land have run away to US on those days.

Wilbur Wright 
I personally don’t subscribe to this view for the simple reason; if it is true, that land would not have given motor car, jet plane and space craft to mankind. Most of the scientific inventions like electric bulb, nuclear energy and so on are from that great nation which had created an environment where people have freedom to think. Freedom encourages risk taking which leads to prosperity.

Let’s look at an Indian example for the same point “Risk takers create prosperity”. In India Mumbai contributes to 10% of countries GDP and it houses approximately 1.5% of Indian population. Most of the people in this great city have ventured to leave their home land, migrated to this place and created a cosmopolitan city. Today Mumbai is one of the commercial cities in the world which has the largest people who left their native place and got adjusted to the fast life style of this great city. This is yet another proof that wherever the land is occupied by “Risk takers” it will be a prosperous place.

I would not have the audacity to say that I am a risk taker. I still stay with egg fried rice after reviewing the menu card several times! Still I can narrate the little progress I made by taking risk in my 60 years of human existence. I rocked the boat every time I turned out a decade of my human existence. At 20 I rocked the boat by migrating from my home town to Chennai to work in a design department of TAFE which was my baby step to learn this art of challenging the status-quo.

 At 30 when I am married with a daughter, I went back to evening college to continue my engineering education and continued my educational pursuits till I finished my Research in IIT. I was virtually riding 3 horses for nearly 10 years namely my job, family and education trying to excel in all avenues. When I came out of my college I was 38!

At 40 I left my lucrative job from Lucas-TVS and shifted to Bombay which was not the characteristic of a typical south Indian at 40s. It was a risk in real sense as my children were grown up and had to study local languages in Maharashtra. I am of the view that you need not have been frustrated to rock the boat – you can be full and contended while you explore new avenues. The main point is becoming uncomfortable with calmness! Strange thing; but it works well.

In the words of Swami Chimayananda “Nature’s plan is activity – Inactivity is death – If you keep your arm in a sling at rest for few days, you cannot even move your fingers; this itself is the proof that nature’s plan is activity while the organism is alive. You have to act and you must as long as you are alive”

The pinnacle of my “Rocking the boat” has happened when I was almost 50 when I wanted to build an institution which will facilitate Indian industries to transform as a customer focused organizations. When this idea hatched in my mind, my daughter was due for her marriage and my son was in his engineering college. I hardly had money for settling my mortgages from my final settlement of leaving my job.

I am from a typical south Indian community which is known to be in service and hardly encouraged to become an entrepreneur. People close to me said I was insane to leave my job when I was a star performer and enough positions left in my corporate career. The only person stood always on my side was my wife Meera who encouraged all my “Rocking the boat” episodes. The only investment I had while I founded Six Sigma Alchemy (P) Ltd (SSA) was my determination and obsession for success.

Today, SSA is a well known Business Excellence consulting company facilitating many corporate to inculcate business excellence practices. If you are pursuing a lofty vision, the whole universe will conspires to support you to succeed. It is evident from the fact that SSA has 25 professionals pursuing my dream to build a World class consulting company. All my family members are in the management team of SSA carrying on the legacy I will be leaving behind. If I have not chosen to “Rock the boat” probably I would have missed the opportunity to explore the hidden potential in me and many other youngsters working for building this great institution called SSA.

I am of the view that we have taken human form to act and according to me there is nothing called “hanging the boot” till nature takes its decision to call you back. I wish to conclude this episode with the French essayist Michel Eyquem de Montaigne:
“The value of Life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet live very little” 
In summary:
  • There is a Columbus in you waiting to manifest to explore the unfounded avenues.
  • Status-quo gives a notional comfort and be aware of it for mediocrity.
  • Risk taking is our innate nature passed by our legacy.
  • "Rocking the boat” is challenging the status quo for new ways of thinking & working
  •  You can discover great potentials only when you cross your comfort zones.
  •  Growth is directly proportional to risk – higher the risk; higher the growth.
  •  Freedom encourages risk taking – encourage your children to explore the   unknown
  • If you wish to be 100% successful all the time, you develop risk aversion and settle down to mediocrity.
  • The only way to avoid mistake is “not trying anything at all!”
  • Forgive yourself for a failure – after all Edison failed 1200 times before he could find the great invention of an electric bulb.   
  • Finally, watch out for comfort zone resulting out of “status-quo” and “Rock the boat” to challenge them.
  • When everyone settles down for “Comfort zones”, a Leader looks for “Rocking the boat”   
  • Rock the boat and progress in Life to figure out your un-explored potentials.

Look forward to share more tips on Leadership. See you next week. Till then Good bye.

Jai Gurudev


  1. Very inspiring dad! I remember most of those "Rock the boat" events, the most vivid in my memory being the time you chose to become an entrepreneur. Those were the most stressful and challenging days for you and all of us, I lost count of how many weekends you worked without taking a break!

  2. Hello Sir,

    Thanks for sharing your real life experiences...

    I think back and see what you have illustrated exactly suits ! risk takers prosper well ! definetly its a challenge that one might not be ready to face from an already exisiting comfortable position, but its worth the shot ...

  3. Dear Sir,

    Your article is really inspiring.Risk taking ability when coined together with a vision (as you have narrated in the first part of the article about TVS Lucas) cooks the recipe for the foundation of success...

  4. Ramgopal CancherlaMay 14, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    'When in doubt, go back to basics'. Solid recap of our basics that "Risk taking is our innate nature"!! Concur with u sir, "If you are pursuing a lofty vision, the whole universe will conspires to support you to succeed." God bless u to yet again "rock the boat" @ 70 which Progeny will feel proud of.

  5. Great NC ! It is true that unless one gets out of comfort zone, he/she cannot achieve anything in life. As you have rightly pointed out taking risk is an inherent quality not just in human beings, but all the species on this planet. Every species is born out of a mother who risks her life to bring out her offspring. Your article on this subject is truly inspiring and I hope this gives birth to quite a few risk takers!

  6. A great inspiring article, NC. Without "rocking the boat", the legends you listed wouldn't have achieved what they did. I would also like to add one additional legend in the entrepreneurial world - Juan Trippe, the founder of now defunct PanAM airlines. Richard Branson wrote that "throughout his career, Juan Trippe had been driven by the great American instinct for seeing a market before it happened and then making it happen."

    So, one needs to have a vision then rock the boat to pursue that vision. This is exactly what you did in your case by founding the SSA.

  7. It does give us an insight into the hard work spent by you before reaching this level of success.IT motivates us to start thinking the same at this age.. possibly do something similar or join the gang. Will eagerly await the next post

    Pankaj Kapoor
    Six Sigma MBB - Marico

  8. Dear NC,

    Your article on rocking the boat & Resource myophia is simply great because it help the common person to easily understand with real life examples shared by you. One can not acheive the success in their career without taking risk. Your success today is because of the risk you have taken at critical times by deciding to move out of the comfort zone. I am very happy that you sharing your life experiences for the benefit of the readers and igniting the required spark to add value to the society. Looking forward to your next article.



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